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Statement at East Hampton Town Public Hearing – November 21, 2013

The airport in its present form is a huge negative for the Town of East Hampton, as well as much of the rest of Long Island. Should it not now exist, and its creation, in its present form, be proposed, there is simply no way that it would come into being. No one can rationally dispute this: a regional airport hosting hundreds of operations per day, including large jets, and commercial helicopter and seaplane flights, with virtually no restriction–impacting thousands of residents 24 hours a day for months at a time, would not be permitted to place itself in pristine watershed woods, surrounded by thousands of homes and businesses, as well as trails, parks, preserves, beaches, bays, villages, etc. IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN.

But the airport, expanding inexorably, as if by some God-given design, does exist–and its proponents, its handful of users, and an even tinier few making money on it–claim that not only must it be protected, and remain unregulated, but they want US to pay for it, either locally through a bond, or federally, through FAA grants. They actually want us to subsidize our own destruction.

Anyone who says that the airport is an “economic boon” is ignoring the unremitting fact that this airport is seriously damaging property values, and thus depleting tax revenues, all over the East End. This bit of data was intentionally left out of the Rudin Report–for obvious reasons. Anyone who says that East Hampton’s economy is in any way “dependent” on the airport is living in a dream world. If there are 65 full time year round employees at EHA they must be working underground. Just last year Dominck Stanzione claimed that there were 95. I guess the other 30 retired.

Do you know that at this point airport users do not even pay for PARKING? Free Parking at our airport. Cheap landing fees, cheap hangar rentals, unrestricted access, unregulated air pollution on a massive scale, and the incessant barrage of noise–noise that destroys. The noise destroys quality of life, and it destroys property values. The noise destroys peace of mind and summer afternoons. The noise destroys everything that thousands of innocent citizens have staked their lives on–the sanctity of our own homes. WE WERE HERE FIRST. Years before EHA morphed into a regional commercial hub, WE WERE HERE.

This is not an issue of money, for goodness’ sake–it is an issue of values. Will the self-interest  of a few individuals outweigh the residential and civic interests of thousands of people on the East End? People who say as one: “We want to control this airport–or shut it down.”

There is no acceptable solution to the assault of helicopter traffic other than to eliminate it. An airport in a rural resort community must be carefully controlled–or it will destroy the very place that its users so desperately wish to be in.

Barry Raebeck

Resident of Wainscott since 1994 — and resident of East Hampton since 1957

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